T Nation

Obese, 19Y/O, Heavy Smoker, Trying to Change

“Just stop smoking”, “Try x,y or z diet”, "You can’t lose weight without a lot of cardio!"
What is my problem with these? Simple, it is not that easy, Crash dieting does not work because it is not sustainable, but when you have a budget similar to that of a goldfishes wallet I can’t go and buy everything “fresh”. That said I think a simple diet would work. I have managed to lose a little weight before, lifting weights and tracking activity with a wildly inaccurate fitbit (It at least let me know the general trend of activity). My main question is basically does anyone have good advice on quitting smoking, dealing the hunger that comes with that, while working out and very gradually increasing cardio? (Please don’t tell me to try to run a mile everyday, 20s in I’ll have a coughing fit for 5m, though any reasonable suggestions would be very much appreciated :)) I do manage to walk a couple miles a day( around .5-1 mile 3 times a day with my puppy) though she takes more breaks then I do.

There are answers I’d give anyone but the reality is that you have to make the decisions. I was a smokeless tobacco user for eight years and I quit cold turkey about four times but the last one stuck because I was finally motivated. My motivation? Money. Quitting dropped my life insurance rates and they checked for nicotine in my system.

Weight loss will be more about diet than cardio. Sure, cardio burns calories but you can’t out work a bad diet.

I understand not being able to afford a bunch of fresh and all natural stuff. I recommend you start tracking your food. Buy a food scale if you want. Track everything. And I mean everything. You have to be aware of what you’re putting in your body so you can make the appropriate adjustments.

You’re 19. You have a long life ahead of you. You don’t have to fix everything by New Years Day. Slow and steady is the way to go. Make positive changes and make them become habit. Build on that as you go.

There’s no magic formula other than consistency. I work with a guy who’s lost 50 lbs in about six months. All he did was start tracking his food. Just being aware can help you make better decisions. He still hasn’t started working out regularly.

You can do it! (just not overnight)

Edit: I think you should start a weight lifting program with a little cardio for general health. Adding muscle will increase your base metabolic rate meaning you’ll burn more calories each day. Muscles also look cool.


Thanks, Starting Strength good or should I do something else? Some people say its a miracle program while others say its crap.

Do you like the look of starting strength?

Any program that uses compound barbell or bodyweight exercises and also has a progression (more weights more reps etc) will work well for a beginner, as long as you work hard and work consistently.


Ok, Thanks

Pick a program off this site, train hard and just dont eat junk and at 19 you will see progress pretty fast. This is a good start…

Once in the swing of things can crank it up to something like this…

I am not sure if you guys want it or care, but here is an update.
I have managed to cut down my smoking (less than a pack a day). I went the first week cold turkey and then started smoking again because I kept coughing all day in class and cough drops were not helping.
My puppy has gotten bigger which means longer walks, I try to end them by running the last bit home, its not very far but it is better then before.
My lifts have all remained relatively the same because I am in consistent with it, however I have managed to lose a little weight but as I didn’t weigh myself before I am not exactly sure how much.
I can tell my breathing is improving and making me in general feel better which is a plus.
I am looking over the programs RampantBadger recommended and will probably give them a go once I am back home from thanksgiving. Seeing my family (specifically my brothers, who make me seem more reasonable, when I am 100% not) I feel pretty damn motivated right now.
The biggest obstacle I am facing right now is the fact I have been smoking so long my lungs are crap. I can walk quite a ways without running out of breath, a set of stairs, short run etc. but while squatting deadlifting benching, etc. I cough like my body is trying to lose a lung. I keep trying to catch myself when I feel like smoking and being like “Just wait”, 2 days ago I had around 4 which when I realized at the end of the day made me feel accomplished even though It is still bad.
If you want me to shutup I can :). Have a good day!


Good stuff mate
All positive steps are great steps
You’re doing it by yourself fighting your own demons and the fact that you have started making adjustments building a level of discipline is awesome.

I would recommend starting a training log, it’s a great tool to keep track of what you’re doing and adding in things like your mental state, how many ciggies you’ve had and your diet is a huge advantage plus with the wider spectrum of people being reached, more ideas and wisdom can be passed that may just happen to be what you need to read.

Keep up the good work, the fact you’ve followed through shows a lot of people on here you’re not just a flash in the pan, and they’ll be more inclined to pass on ideas.

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Of course mate, that’s what we are here for. Making smaller, better more permanent changes are far better than making drastic life changing decisions that only last 2 weeks.

Keep plodding along and keep us updated :slight_smile: best of luck

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I second that, a log can be a grate tool.
keep us updated and best of luck

I am thinking about setting up an excel spreadsheet With days along the x titles, Then the exercises I want to do (timed exercises will go by seconds I think) and keep track of the weight. Keep some notes on how I feel day to day and how much I smoke, Graph all the positive(by positive I mean beneficial, not like only the good) increases.I’ll work on that tonight. P.S. Happy Thanksgiving

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On this whole spreadsheet thing. I know I can have a positive nitrogen balance while maintaining a deficit, so I can build muscle that way, however (for me) its a very small deficit, would I be better off taking a larger calorie deficit and just training to maintain muscle (once or twice a week), and do the little cardio I can the other days? Or should I set it up so I try to build that muscle and lose a little weight and let the benefits of not smoking kick-in before I start trying to do more cardio? Cuz I tried to run today and hit 1 min 10 and spent probably 2-3 min coughing, that kind of felt like a kick in the balls for this whole training thing.

As far as I can tell you haven’t really given any specific details of your situation so it’s really tough to advise you.

Height, weight, goal weight, strength level, age and time lifting are all things that cam be helpful for us to help you.

Try some guaifenesin to clear up that lung butter. Most places have it as a stand alone tablet.

When you start sucking wind, put your hands on top of your head, breathe through your nose, and keep moving.

When you get a kick in the balls like that its ok to kick back.

Height 6ft even, weight 320, Strength level - above average compared to the people around me (5rm, 225 squat, 170 bench, 250 DL (without straps, grip that fails), I have never (even now) lifted on a regular basis, the closest I came was a summer job doing construction and demo, I got really good at curls, I haven’t been to the gym in awhile but I used to lat pull down 200 for 10. (Though back then I could also bench 225 so meh). I don’t really have a goal weight, I would like to get sub 15% bf, squat 405, bench 315, dead lift 405, and run a 5k in 20min. These are all goals that will obviously take a lot of time, my basic question is should I focus on lower bf%, gaining strength, or working on cardio. I only have 4 smokes left and after that I am going to suck it up. Since I have plenty of equipment at home I could do weight training every single day (mon-fri). As far as the 5k thing goes thats ego, like the fact people curl a lot, except I hate it, which is why I like it. I am not sure why but before i even started demo I had great grip strength that faded during it, My gf at the time made fun of how my arms got smaller. I tend to only eat breakfast and dinner during the week, but all three on weekends/holidays. Not afraid of the hard work. Just not sure what to do.

Ok good that you made some progress with the smoking.
Also maybe try all these new vape/smokless products all the kidz seem to be on?

At 300lbs+ You need to stop second guessing things and just get training consistently ASAP. By the sound of things forget cardio for now.
Those programs I linked really work as do pretty much 90% of the routines on this site but nothing will happen unless you put in some work and do something, anything, every week(3 + times a week)

I would actually say forget calories and dont stress about diet until you hit 250 and just make clean /sensible food choice till then(cut out sugar, get in lots protein and veg etc)

So, yeah, getting stronger, coming back up on 2 plates for bench (still like 40 pounds away but adding about 10lbs a week lately) squatting is the same though I’ll admit I kind of half assed it this last couple weeks, deadlifted 255, grip gave (on 5th rep) might do some work on Tues. Thurs. To deal with that… Got weighed at the gym in at 280, so either my scale is crap or there’s is I think I have lost some weight though… Other than the fact I still smoke, I think I’m doing moderately okay, hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas, I can’t explain my gratitude for the encouragement and help


Have a good Xmas mate!

Keep going! We all want instant results but it took awhile for you to get to this point and it’ll take awhile to get back.

Always forward! (I recently binge watched Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix)

The cool thing about your lungs concerning smoking is that, as soon as you put out your last cigarette for the day, or night, If you can manage a full 24 hours of not smoking your lungs repair themselves almost immediately. After a week of not smoking, your risks get cut in half, after 5 years of not smoking, your risks are basically non existent, and after 15 years of not smoking, your lungs resemble that of someone who never picked a cigarette up in their life.

I started smoking around freshman year, and I’ve managed to have quit for about two years, right around when I started lifting. For me, I rationalized what I was doing. There was just no way in heck I could ever convince someone or even myself that smoking and lifting were ok.

And then I found myself in one of the weirdest conundrums, was I a healthy smoker? Or was I an unhealthy lifter? To this day I still have no answer for myself.

I’ll offer what I did, and maybe it can help. I basically deprived myself. Cold turkey. But I manipulated other things I did, and I completely gave into snacking. It went hand in hand with lifting since I was putting those extra calories to good use. I had oranges, lemon wedges, cough drops, trail mixes, tiny salad trays, peanut butter cups, few sweet things here and there, un-salted popcorn, beef jerky, lollipops, and cranked up the caffeine. and I would just have a bunch of them in my purse, backpack, my dresser, in the fridge, on the table, in the bathroom, on the porch. Everywhere I had a lighter or a stash of cigarettes, I replaced it with food. Some people substitute different things, but I was someone who needed to entertain my hands and my mouth.

I also bought a vape, and I use It occasionally, and keep the nicotine percentage at 3 or 0, just for the flavors. I use 100% vegetable glycerin. There aren’t too many studies on side effects, but the few articles I’ve read suggest they definitely don’t have any detrimental health hazards, but It would be the best to eventually not inhale anything except the air around you, which is what I’m still working towards. The only hazard they propose is over heating, or catching on fire. And that happens with ones that are made in someone’s garage or something. Really sketchy ones.

In severe emergencies I rely on patches and gum as well. Most days I hardly notice them when I use them, but when I use the gum, I run through probably two aluminum cases in a day if I’m really fighting it. when I do i tend to not eat as much. If i get insane cravings I’ll put a decent bit of patches on my legs, and one on the back of my neck, and just power through the day, or take a nap.

Of the two years I’ve quit smoking I can count on one hand how many instances I’ve caved in and smoked. It does get better with time, but just like lifting, you have to want it, and it’s something you have to put intense effort and time into. You’re doing great so far, and if you need any help, or words of encouragement feel free to tag me anytime. Merry Christmas!!!

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